Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist chiefs appeal for peace

Loyalist leaders in East Belfast have called for an end to "pointless" violence.

Church leaders and community workers united to appeal for peace following weeks of rioting.

"This plea is about stopping the pointless violence, fear and wanton destruction being caused by a few," they said.

Westbourne Presbyterian Church minister Mervyn Gibson, Methodist Church leader on the Lower Newtownards Road Gary Mason and loyalist community worker Jim Wilson endorsed the peace statement at the East Belfast Mission.

Leaflets are now being distributed, calling for an end to the trouble. A total of 41 organisations and churches backed the initiative. They said they support the right to peaceful and legal protests.

"The people of East Belfast plead that those involved in the current rioting stop now. We would add that those who come into the area to riot and cause disturbance are not welcome," they said.

"The rioting does absolutely nothing to promote any cause but rather is damaging this community and causing further suffering.

"We who live, work or have a vested interest in East Belfast may have our differences of opinion about many matters but we are united in our determination to stop this community from suffering further."

Mr Mason said it was important a message went out from the community that the violence had to end. He said: "Everybody is coming together collectively and saying this must stop. We hope it is a turning point."

Mr Gibson said ties had been developed between the two communities during past periods of strife. He added: "We have been here before. I believe there were relations built over the years which hopefully will see us through over the coming months and years."

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